From sugar-white sands and cerulean seas to thrilling adventures and fruity rum punches, the Caribbean is a tried-and-tested destination for relaxation. Now that school’s out for the summer, treat your family to the ultimate island getaway.
To make your trip even more enjoyable, consider staying in a FlipKey vacation rental. It’s no surprise that vacation homes are ideal for families—the extra living space, a full kitchen, and private outdoor area, plus amenities like laundry or a grill.
We’ve rounded up nine Caribbean destinations your family will love, each boasting some of the best vacation rental guest review scores in all of the Caribbean. From the mountains of St. Lucia to the sun-kissed shores of Turks & Caicos, choose a rental in one of these tropical hot spots and enjoy an authentic island experience.
Ratings are based on the lifetime average vacation rental review score for that destination (for stays during summer months), according to TripAdvisor reviewers. FlipKey is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor.
“Peace and tranquility by the sea. Everything you need, and some things you didn’t know you needed, are available in this cottage.” – FlipKey Traveler
Ringed by silky sands and blue-green waters, Cayman Brac is an island paradise situated in the Caribbean Sea. Here, you can slip into relaxation mode while lounging along the 12 miles of golden beaches, or explore the rocky bluffs and pockets of caves lining the shore. Venture off the beaten path to discover the island’s natural beauty, or plunge into the surrounding sea for spectacular diving. Known for its stunning scenery and laid-back beach vibes, one thing’s certain: chilling with your family in Cayman Brac will never get old.
“Perfect place in Marigot Bay. We kept pinching ourselves as we stayed in this clean, light, beautiful apartment overlooking the bay.” – FlipKey Traveler
Home to the legendary Pitons and lush Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia is one of the most beautiful and mountainous islands in the Caribbean. Wake to the sound of birds chirping outside your window and ease into your day on the balcony of your Marigot Bay rental. When you’re ready for an adventure, drive into the depths of the La Soufrière volcano past steaming hot springs and therapeutic mud baths, or hop in a water taxi to explore the island’s secrets. Marigot Bay is perfect for families looking to add an unforgettable excursion (or two!) to their Caribbean getaway.
“Everything was perfect! We are beach sloths and seafood piggies and this was the best condo for our family at an unbelievably affordable price.” – FlipKey Traveler
Dig your toes into the sand and let your worries wash away while on vacation in St. Thomas’s picturesque East End. This part of the island is where you’ll find Red Hook—a delightful community characterized by its red-tiled roof homes—as well as a bustling port that makes island hopping a cinch. Prefer to relax? Unfurl your towel at Sapphire Beach and enjoy a day of sunbathing and snorkeling with your family. No matter how you choose to spend your time, East End is a top-rated Caribbean destination that won’t disappoint!
“The lovely environment of the villa with its lovely pool and outdoor areas provided a welcome respite and gathering place for our family.” – FlipKey Traveler
Wide, sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and dazzling coral reefs grace the shores of Bequia, a lush island in the Grenadines. At only seven square miles, everyone knows everyone here, and it’s the perfect destination for travelers searching for a friendly atmosphere and inviting, small-town feel. Lounge in the sun at Princess Margaret Beach or Lower Bay Beach, or go for a stroll around the village of Port Elizabeth—just don’t be startled by friendly chickens strutting at your feet. As the sun starts to fade on the horizon, head home to your waterfront rental, and pass the time guessing which celebrities are aboard the massive yachts anchored out your window in Admiralty Bay.
“Perfect piece of paradise on Chalk Sound. Our 3-generation family was so happy… Every night was perfect in its own way.” – FlipKey Traveler
In Providenciales (“Provo” to the locals), enjoy a breathtaking panorama of blue skies and turquoise surf, right from your seat in the sand. This sun-drenched destination is home to the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award-winning beach, Grace Bay, and is the ultimate place to escape the day-to-day. Dive into the crystal clear waters and explore the miles of coral reef just offshore, or start happy hour early and indulge in some of the island’s signature Rum Punch.
“Loved it!!!!! The whole trip was awesome. Right from the booking to the day we went home!” – FlipKey Traveler
The capital of Curaçao, Willemstad boasts a lively downtown that bursts with colorful colonial architecture, Dutch-inspired landmarks, and a vast array of beach attractions. Float down the city’s winding waterways or stroll down the streets of the Punda and Otrobanda neighborhoods, taking in all that makes Willemstad a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you’re not browsing the packed art galleries or sampling cocktails mixed with the island’s famed Blue Curaçao, retreat to your pastel-colored condo to relax on your balcony. From its historic charm and beautiful beaches to its year-round flawless weather, it’s no surprise that Willemstad ranks on our list of top-rated Caribbean destinations.
“Sooo AMAZING that we requested to book a second stay <24 hours after returning home!!!” – FlipKey Traveler
As soon as you set foot in Punta Cana, you’ll be on island time. Experience the thrill of zip-lining through the jungle, discover the hidden lagoons of Hoyo Azul, or dive into a colorful new world under the water. Up for a challenge? Punta Cana has several world-class golf courses with rolling fairways and contoured greens that are sure to provide a golf outing unlike any other. Whether you spend your days rocking in the hammock at your rental or playing in the surf, you’ll leave Punta Cana absolutely rejuvenated.
“The best time ever!!! Maurice (the caretaker) had that reggae music pumping for us and we loved it…dancing and singing around the villa! Yea Mon!” – FlipKey Traveler
Leaping from Blue Hole waterfall, floating down the White River, and swimming at Bamboo Beach… there are so many ways to make a splash in Ocho Rios. From thrilling adventures to laid-back happy hours, this island oasis will keep you busy for days on end. After a day of fun in the sun, let your mind wander as the breeze carries the rhythmic sound of steel drums through the air. Book a sprawling beach villa right on the water and start counting down the days until your blissful beach getaway.
“Our experience was A+! We absolutely LOVED the property, the town and the people we worked with.” – FlipKey Traveler
Among the top beach spots in the world, Nassau is the picture of tranquility. Here you’ll find calm, turquoise waters lapping the pristine shores, refreshing Sky Juice (a local favorite) flowing freely, and delectable conch fritters always available. In other words, Nassau offers the ultimate recipe for vacation perfection. Cut through the waves in a catamaran, snorkel with a school of fish, or laze under the sun—the possibilities are endless at this top-rated Caribbean destination!
For many, Fourth of July goes hand-in-hand with relaxing outdoors, spending time with family, and, of course, BBQ! It’s also the perfect excuse to book an extra long weekend getaway!
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up eight vacation rentals that boast magnificent outdoor kitchens and entertaining spaces, ideal for your Fourth of July cookout. Whether you’re the BBQ master or a hungry guest, these homes across the US have top-notch grills that will be sure to heat up your summer vacation plans.
Equipped with an oversized gas grill, outdoor TV and a dual gas and wood fireplace, the backyard at this Peoria vacation home is the perfect place to host your Fourth of July bash! Crank some summer tunes while you fire up the grill for an afternoon feast of burgers and hot dogs. While Peoria sees nearly 300 days of sunshine each year, the outdoor living space is cleverly covered, ensuring that the festivities will go on, rain or shine.
Walk straight through the sliding glass doors of this French-inspired mountain estate into a beautiful backyard oasis. Grill masters will gravitate to the industrial BBQ shaded by a pergola, while peckish guests can snack on appetizers by the bar. Once you’ve had your fill of grilled goodness, gather around the double-sided fireplace to make s’mores. With spectacular views of Truckee Valley, there’s no better place to dine al fresco.
Spend the Fourth of July bouncing from pool to patio at Pelican Perch. The cozy outdoor space where the grill is located is just steps from the community pool, and provides a sunny place to dry off, grab dinner and dine with family and friends. There’s plenty of room here to entertain from sunup to sundown, or retreat to the wraparound porch for some shade.
With the Blue Ridge Mountains out back, relax in the comfort of Enchanted Elegance’s backyard portico. It’s home to a gas grill, beautiful stone fireplace, flat-screen TV and enough seating for 10+ guests. Toss a variety of meats and veggies on the grill to cook while you play lawn games with your family just steps away. When you’ve had your fill of barbecue, roast marshmallows over the fire while watching a baseball game on TV—it doesn’t get more Fourth of July than that!
A stainless steel BBQ, big enough to cook dinner for your entire group, sits on the back deck of this majestic mountain home! Built into the same stone wall are a sink and large prep space that make preparing a Fourth of July feast a cinch. Once your meal is cooked, grab a seat on the couch in front of the fireplace, or pull up a seat at the counter, and take in the natural beauty of South Lake Tahoe. We feel more relaxed just thinking about it!
After an afternoon of swimming and splashing in the pool, grab food hot off the grill and dine outdoors at Stepping Rock. The custom outdoor kitchen is just steps from an open air entertainment area that features a TV and fireplace. Additional dining space can be found in the large yard, where you can eat at picnic tables surrounded by live oaks, with string lights twinkling overhead. With its warm temperatures and abundant sunshine, head to Austin to celebrate this beloved US holiday.
At Island Oasis, kick back on your balcony and enjoy some fresh air as the tantalizing aroma of barbecue wafts from the grill. With fresh, local ingredients at your fingertips in Maui, it’ll be hard to resist whipping up Hawaiian favorites like grilled pineapple and Huli Huli chicken. This luxurious Hawaiian villa is surrounded by swaying palm trees and verdant greens, the ideal setting for a Fourth of July getaway.
Set on 20 acres of pristine land in Montana, the Nelson Farmhouse is a wonderful place for your Fourth of July festivities. Offering an alluring valley setting and top-of-the-line gas grill, there’s no reason not to take the cooking outdoors here. Pile barbecue onto your plate then make yourself comfortable in an Adirondack chair by the fire pit, or take a seat in the gazebo. There’s even a heat lamp here, so you can stargaze late into the night without getting chilly at this Bozeman vacation home.
With Instagram fast approaching 1 billion active users according to a recent study, the photo app has quickly become a source for unending travel inspiration. From pictures of unspoiled tropical beach destinations to videos of bustling city streets (and everything in between!), we are #obsessed.
But now it’s your turn to get behind the camera! We’ve searched the globe and hand-picked 10 of the most luxurious rentals ready to grace your Instagram feed. Whether your idea of paradise is sitting by an infinity pool in Thailand or gazing out over the Los Angeles skyline from around a fire pit, the photogenic vacation homes on our list will not disappoint. They’re sure to kick-start your vacation planning and give you some serious wanderlust (you’ve been warned!). Happy browsing!
Perched at the highest point of Beverly Hills, this open-concept home offers panoramic views of the Los Angeles skyline, surrounding mountains, and Pacific Ocean. Whether you plant yourself by the pool or near the fire pit here, make sure to snap a sunset photo to share. In addition to its stunning setting, visitors will enjoy luxurious amenities such as a home theater, spa-like bathroom, and a swanky outdoor patio. Although a vacation at this place runs $2,500 per night, you can’t put a price tag on amazing.
Look familiar? You may have seen Villa Rak Tawan on our Instagram feed where it’s currently inspiring travelers from around the world. The insanely beautiful villa offers an indulgent escape where luxurious spa treatments and meals prepared by a private chef are the norm. When you’re not lounging by the infinity pool, take in the view of Surin Beach from your bedroom’s private balcony.
For the ultimate mountain getaway, plan a stay at the Moonlight Summit Chalet in Big Sky’s high-end Moonlight Basin community. Inside the home you’ll find exposed timbers, vaulted ceilings, and massive picture windows that face Montana’s jaw-dropping landscape. But that’s not all! Six spacious bedrooms, a family-friendly game room, and several fireplaces make this rental extra inviting. Whether you’re unwinding in the sun-drenched living room or soaking in the hot tub, this place is #vacationgoals.
Between the tree-lined garden, saltwater pool, and picture-perfect gazebo, you may be tempted to stay at this Tuscan farmhouse forever. Situated in the Italian countryside, Villa Emma offers seven bedrooms spread out over two spacious floors of living space—plenty of room for you and 14 of your friends! Spend time here lounging under the shade of an olive tree or head to the nearby village to catch a performance at the Theatre of Silence, a famed open-air amphitheater five minutes down the road.
If you think renting an entire castle is out of your budget, think again. When you split the $605 nightly rate between 15 guests, Chateau de la Paix becomes uber-affordable. Amenities here include a game room, heated pool, on-site gym, and more. There’s even the option to splurge on a private chef or daily housekeeping, so you can truly relax during your stay. With eight bedrooms and two additional cottages available to rent on the property, the more, the merrier at Chateau de la Paix!
Ditch your worries at the door when you arrive at Villa Mia. With four outdoor terraces overlooking the ocean, a heart-shaped hot tub that fits sixteen people, and a large palapa bar, this rental is sure to put you at ease. For the more active travelers in your group, Villa Mia also boasts an on-site squash court and a place to slip kayaks into the water for an adventure at sea.
Dali Hale Estate is nestled along the bluffs of Kilauea overlooking Kauai’s spectacular North Shore coastline. In addition to the lush tropical setting, the 6,000 square foot plantation-style home features floor-to-ceiling windows, a gourmet kitchen, and a wraparound lanai perfect for watching the sunset. Dine al fresco under the gazebo; play some tennis; take a bubble bath on the balcony (yes, really!)—the possibilities are endless here!
Tree Villa offers unobstructed views of some of Camps Bay’s most famous attractions: Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and Camps Bay Beach. When you’re not taking in the panoramic views, head indoors where the villa’s airy rooms and modern furnishings are equally Insta-worthy. Sink into one of the plush couches near the living room fireplace or cozy around the kitchen island as your group makes dinner. There’s something amazing to discover in every room!
Boasting sweeping bay views, this contemporary masterpiece known as Villa Venetia sits along the water’s edge in Miami Beach. Here, luxurious indoor spaces blend seamlessly with outdoor living areas, and modern amenities make for a once-in-a-lifetime stay. Need a break from lounging on the rooftop terrace or swimming in the pool? Catch a boat from your private dock and head to nearby beaches.
We bet you’ll rack up the likes on photos of this astounding Grecian villa! It’s located in a quiet corner of Santorini and features several floors of immaculate living space. Walk through the home and you’ll see colorful paintings and elegant furnishings that bring the whitewashed walls to life, while arched ceilings will draw your eyes upward. As you reach the back of the villa, have your camera ready—the volcano views and sparkling sea will take your breath away.
Mouthwatering sundaes with toppings galore, creamy frappes so thick you need a spoon to finish, and sugar cones stacked with scoops of ice cream… do we have your attention?
No matter where you go on vacation this summer, chances are you’ll stumble upon an ice cream parlor as you explore—and nothing beats a sweet treat on a blissfully sunny day. Whether you’re into gourmet flavors (Bourbon Ginger Snap anyone?) or you’re a purist who prefers traditional vanilla or chocolate, we’ve got the scoop on the top ice cream shops across the country where you can try it all.
From the coast of Maine to the California desert, opt for a vacation rental near one of the spots on our list to ensure your vacation is as sweet as can be!
Looking for the perfect beach for a beginner level surfer? Start with the entries on our list.
Ever watch the surfers at the beach and wonder what it would be like to catch a tube and ride it all the way in? Stop dreaming and get your feet wet! There are easy-to-reach beaches in the USA that cater to beginners. These spots have local surf shops offering lessons and gear, and gentle waves that won’t leave you feeling pounded.
Grab your sunscreen—one of these six scenic, beginner-friendly surfing spots is waiting to host your next vacation:
Sea Isle City, New Jersey is an East Coast haven for beginning surfers, with eight designated surfing beaches and an endless supply of gentle rollers. You’ll also find plenty of outfitters offering surfing lessons and equipment rentals, so consider enrolling in a three-day surf camp to learn the basics. It may look hectic by the size of the crowds, but this smart seaside city planned their beaches by activity, so visitors don’t collide.
How to get there: Sea Isle City is easy to get to and is just a couple of hours south along the shore from New York City (and only 30 minutes from Atlantic City International Airport).
Folly Beach, South Carolina, 15 minutes from Charleston, is so laid-back you’ll think you’re in southern California. You’ll find a half dozen breaks offering consistent waves that are best ridden on a longboard. Surf schools are abundant, but book your lessons before you visit, as space is limited. Vacationers to Folly Beach praise the soft sand and unspoiled beachscape.
How to get there: Charleston International Airport is a 30-minute drive away, and Atlanta is about four hours west of Folly Beach on I-26.
Speaking of SoCal, La Jolla Shores beckons beginning surfers with predictable waves and a mile-long stretch of sandy beach. You’ll find parking close to the beach and friendly surf shops with instructors experienced in working with beginners. Visitors to La Jolla are close to all San Diego attractions, so plan an extended trip to this sun-washed coastal village.
How to get there: San Diego International Airport is less than 20 minutes from La Jolla Shores, or you can drive there from Anaheim in an hour and a half.
Sunset Point Beach, at the northern end of Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, California, is famous for long, smooth rollers that beginning longboard surfers will love. Surf shops in Pacific Palisades and nearby Santa Monica offer all the necessary start-up gear, so there’s no excuse for not making this your first California surfing experience.
How to get there: This Los Angeles area beach is easy to access with parking along Pacific Coast Highway. Pacific Palisades is 30 miles from Los Angeles International Airport, or if you’re driving in from the east, it’s about a four-hour drive straight west from Las Vegas on I-15.
For our next beginner surf spot, we’re heading south to Galveston Beach, Texas. This popular beach is blessed with consistent, small waves, making it perfect for the new surfer. Galveston Island is the quintessential beach destination, with plenty to experience off the water, too.
How to get there: Galveston Island is a 45-minute drive from Houston Hobby Airport, or if you’re traveling from New Orleans to Galveston, it’s a five-hour drive on I-10.
The final stop on our tour is Cocoa Beach, Florida. Not only will you find easy waves to conquer on a longboard, you can also take lessons from world-famous Ron Jon Surf School (Now that’s a T-shirt worth taking home!) There’s a classic Florida Space Coast feel here, so you’ll be sharing your days with fishers, kayakers, and beachcombers soaking up the sun.
How to get there: You’re about an hour away from Orlando International Airport at Cocoa Beach, or you can drive straight across the state two hours from St. Petersburg.
These six beginner-friendly beaches were handpicked to help you plan your first surfing vacation. Gentle waves, sandy beaches and friendly oceanfront towns—it’s a mix made in heaven for the soul who longs to surf.
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors.
Yearning to travel the world, but struggling to find someone to take a trip with? Don’t use that as an excuse not to explore.
Top Solo Travel Spots
Solo travel has become increasingly popular in recent years because it provides the opportunity for self-indulgence, the ability to see a new place at your own pace, and the chance to step out of your comfort zone. To help you plan your first adventure alone, we’ve rounded up the best US destinations for solo travel in 2017. Whether you’re embracing the solitude of traveling solo or you’re looking to immerse yourself in non-stop action, there’s something for everyone on our list.
Consider booking an affordable vacation rental (FlipKey has more than 300,000!) to save money and stay on budget during your trip. Even better? You’ll have access to amenities like extra privacy and a full kitchen—all to yourself!
Nestled amongst picturesque hills and mountains, Ojai offers what many book vacations for: rest, relaxation, and quiet. It’s nicknamed “Shangri-La” and is an ideal destination for solo travelers truly looking to escape it all.
With no schedule to keep, enjoy a leisurely morning in the comfort of a cozy cottage rental. When you’re ready to explore, head into town to peruse boutiques and stroll through the farmers market. Don’t want to eat out on your own? Take advantage of Ojai’s year-round pleasant climate by grabbing a bite to go and eating at Libbey Park. Other things to do in Ojai include hiking the Rose Valley Falls Trail, sipping wine at a local vineyard, and indulging in a luxe spa treatment.
Denver serves as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, offering loads of outdoor adventures that make it a perfect place for active travelers. From downhill skiing in the surrounding mountains during the winter to wandering through fields of wildflowers in the spring, this city welcomes visitors all year long.
Visiting Denver during the warmer months? Make sure to catch a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. You’ll be amazed by the venue’s killer acoustics and jaw-dropping setting. If you’re looking to self-reflect rather than rock out, take a drive along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway to enjoy sweeping views of Colorado and breathtaking lookout spots along the way. No matter when you’re in town, Denver boasts numerous museums and restaurants worth checking out.
St. Pete Beach has all the makings of an unforgettable getaway: pristine beaches, world-class museums, and friendly locals to show you a good time. Whether you’re visiting for a long weekend or an extended stay, it’s an ideal place for a warm weather escape. And, with waterfront condos for less than $60/night, this popular destination is affordable—even for solo travelers.
The sugary-white sands and crystal clear blue waters of St. Pete Beach, a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award-winning beach, are sure to put you in relaxation mode. Curl up with a book on the beach or head to Corey Avenue where many restaurants, bars, and shops are located. You’re sure to make some new friends in this laidback beach town!
Known for being the home of the University of Michigan Wolverines, Ann Arbor is a charming college town with an unbeatable energy. Whether you’re planning a trip around a game at Michigan Stadium or your itinerary is wide open, this small city is a solo traveler’s dream.
Set aside several hours to browse at some of the 30+ independent bookstores. When your nose isn’t in a book, spend time perusing shops on State Street or catch a game at Michigan Stadium for the ultimate Ann Arbor experience. You’ll feel anything but alone amongst thousands of fans cheering on the city’s beloved home team.
Situated in central Minnesota overlooking the Mississippi River, Saint Paul is a laidback city with lots of draws for solo travelers. Chic urbanites flock here for the one-of-a-kind shops, while foodies love the sidewalk cafes and welcoming pubs.
Downtown Saint Paul is very walkable, making it easy for visitors to safely wander around the city. Admire views of the Mississippi from Kellogg Mall Park or check out the hip Lowertown district for its unique arts and dining scene. Looking to learn about the city? Aspiring historians and architecture lovers will never get bored discovering interesting sites and fascinating legends throughout the city. With its vibrant energy and cosmopolitan culture, Saint Paul should be on your travel wishlist.
Looking for a more unexpected solo travel destination? With a variety of museums, old school jazz clubs, and one-of-a-kind barbecue joints, Kansas City is the perfect choice. The city straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line, making it a unique place to explore and experience.
Music lovers will want to go for a stroll down 39th Street and be lured by the sound of jazz music pouring from the local dive bars. If you’re a history buff, choose a rental in Kansas City’s historic Westport neighborhood and visit the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Visiting during the summer? Snag a cheap ticket to a Kansas City Royals baseball game. Everything here is relatively affordable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank while traveling solo.
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Red River is a popular resort town in northern New Mexico that offers four seasons of fun. It was once a booming mine town, but today attracts tourists from around the country in search of the idyllic mountain retreat.
During the winter, rent a cabin at the base of the Red River Ski Area and enjoy activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. Scheduled your mountain getaway for the summer months? Take advantage of warm weather and abundant sunshine by hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking through the rugged landscape. Whatever the weather, Red River is an ideal vacation spot for adventurers.
A trip to Lake George will leave you feeling positively refreshed. Tucked into the base of the Adirondack Mountains, this destination boasts year-round beauty and endless opportunities for entertainment.
Navigate the surrounding trails of Prospect Mountain and climb to the top for spectacular views of the area. In the afternoon, cruise around the lake on a historic steamboat or simply relax on the shore. Thomas Jefferson described Lake George as “without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw”… so, hurry up and see for yourself! Choose a vacation home just steps from this gorgeous lake for an utterly blissful getaway.
Time your trip to the Outer Bank so that you only need three things: a swimsuit, beach towel, and sunscreen. This stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is not as easy to get to as some of the other places on our list, but the tranquility and natural beauty are totally worth it once you arrive.
Let your worries slip away as water splashes over your toes at one of the local beaches. The ocean is never far whether you’re staying in a cozy cottage off the beaten path in Duck or renting a home in Nags Head for access to the most activities. Hit the open waters on a deep sea fishing charter or try your luck windsurfing. Out of the water, the area is brimming with birdwatching opportunities. Keep an eye out for egrets, cranes, and other shorebirds during your stay. If your dream getaway involves lazy days at the beach and low-key evenings indulging in great food, then Outer Banks is an obvious choice.
One trip to Virginia Beach and you’ll be hooked! The perfect blend of easy going beach vibes and high energy, this vibrant city attracts travelers from all over the country. Stay in a high rise condo overlooking the Atlantic or choose a home farther inland for extra privacy.
Walk along the three-mile Virginia Beach Boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants and entertainment stages. Dig your toes in the sand at Virginia Beach or make your way to Sandbridge Beach for fewer crowds. Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center or the Military Aviation Museum, which appeal to all ages. Even if you plan your trip for the off-season, there’s still plenty to do.
Looking to break away from popular beach getaways and mountain escapes for your next vacation? Then plan a trip to one of America’s quirkiest small towns and experience their unique traditions like a local.
From cow chip chucking to underwater boogieing, read on to find out more about 20 of the most offbeat festivals in the country… and where to stay in (and around) the small towns that host them. Whether you’re searching for the messiest, wackiest or most interesting event around, our list features something for everyone!
Today, the Annual National Shrimp Festival is one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals. It takes place on the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, with succulent shrimp the featured food. Along the food boardwalk you’ll find the tiny crustaceans prepared in a variety of mouthwatering ways: boiled, fried, grilled… you name it! Decide for yourself what local restaurant has the best shrimp dish or head to the beach to participate in the sand sculpture contest.
When: October 12-15, 2017
Where to stay: Book a modern condo overlooking the water in Gulf Shores and fall asleep listening to the tide ebb and flow. The Annual National Shrimp Festival occurs during Gulf Shores’ shoulder season—an ideal time to snag a deal on local beach rentals.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival raises money for a variety of local charities, while celebrating its namesake pungent herb every July. At the heart of the action is Gourmet Alley where visitors can see celebrity cooking demonstrations and watch as entertaining “pyro chefs” bring the heat with every garlicky creation. Festival favorites include garlic bread, zesty fried garlic calamari and garlic fries.
When: July 28-30, 2017
Where to stay: San Jose is a short 30-minute drive from Gilroy, and an excellent home base for those attending the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, spend your free time discovering the city’s historic landmarks and diverse food scene.
Described as “frigidly fun”, Frozen Dead Guy Days boasts all-out merriment for three days every March. The unique, home-grown festival is tucked away in the mountains of Colorado and celebrates the life of Bredo Morstol, a Norwegian man who’s been cryogenically preserved for years in a shed high above Nederland. Throughout the weekend, attendees enjoy live music, cozy tents for food and drink, and front row seats to outrageous events like frozen t-shirt contests and coffin racing.
When: March 10-12, 2017
Where to stay: Choose between cozy cabins and secluded mountain chalets in Nederland for the quintessential Colorado escape. With rentals available right in Nederland, you won’t have to travel far to participate in all of the festival’s events.
Described as “Colorado to the Core,” the annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is known for its quirky celebration of one chicken’s will to live. The two-day event offers something for everyone: a 5K run, car show, wing eating contests, live music, and more. The whole town comes together for this fun-filled weekend every June.
When: June 2-3, 2017
Where to stay: Fruita offers the ultimate small town experience in Colorado. With its breathtaking rural landscape and exciting outdoor activities, book a stay in Fruita and you’ll want to be outdoors as much as possible!
Every year, people from around the country converge on a wide-open field in Delaware for The World Championship Punkin Chunkin. During the event, pumpkins take flight via every means available—catapults, air cannons, human power, and more!—as competitors attempt to launch theirs the farthest. The festival also includes a cooking competition, chili cook-off, and Punkin Chunkin pageant.
When: November 3-5, 2017
Where to stay: Make yourself at home in Dewey Beach, located just over 30 miles away from Bridgeville. Crisp afternoon walks on the beach will leave you feeling refreshed, and off-season rental prices will help you stay on budget.
This unconventional music festival takes place at Looe Key, part of the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. It kicks off on Friday evening with an educational reception emphasizing reef preservation. On Saturday, divers don wacky costumes and scuba or snorkel gear for a day in the sea, while US 1 Radio broadcasts underwater. This event is truly one-of-a-kind!
When: July 7-8, 2017
Where to stay: As long as you have access to a boat, you can choose to stay on just about any of the Florida Keys during your vacation. Cheery beach homes and island-style villas will have you wanting to extend your stay as long as possible.
The Mattoon Bagelfest got its start as a free bagel breakfast for the entire city. Today, it’s evolved into a city-wide celebration taking place over several days in July. The weekend consists of a festive street carnival, live music, beer tents, and, (of course!) bagels galore. Whether you participate in the 5K run or compete to be Miss Bagelfest, there’s something for everyone throughout the weekend.
When: July 2017
Where to stay: Just 30 minutes south of Mattoon is Effingham, a delightful town in central Illinois. During your stay, indulge at Tuscan Hills Winery or take the family for a stroll along the TREC Calico Trail. At the end of the day, settle in for a blissful evening in the comfort of your private rental home.
Looking to start a new family tradition? Check out Scarecrow Fest in St. Charles. You’ll find more than 100 hand-crafted scarecrows on display, spanning all different sizes and themes. Admire them all and don’t forget to vote for your favorite. Other highlights of Scarecrow Fest include the petting zoo, arts and crafts show, and carnival. The best part? It’s all free!
When: October 6-8, 2017
Where to stay: Des Plaines is a suburb of Chicago that boasts affordable rentals and a wonderful small town feel. When you’re not in St. Charles, visit the first McDonald’s in Des Plaines (now a museum!) or relax along Lake Opeka.
Mr. Pierogi and friends invite you to Whiting’s pride and joy: its annual Whiting Pierogi Fest. This unique festival celebrates the local residents’ common Polish heritage—while poking fun at each other too. During the weekend, watch as grown women tie on babushkas and twirl through the streets, snap a photo with a life-size Polish pastry, or see how far you can fling a pierogi during the Pierogi Toss.
When: July 2017
Where to stay: Search for a vacation rental in the neighboring town of Gary. This location will put you just minutes from Lake Michigan, a perfect place to be on a steamy July day, and within striking distance of Chicago for those who prefer a day in the city.
The setting of the classic film “Grumpy Old Men,” Wabasha celebrates its Hollywood fame by holding the Grumpy Old Men Festival each year. The main event is the Grumpy Plunge, a chilly dive into the Mississippi River that raises money for local businesses. If you’re not prepared for a frigid dip, play a few hours of bingo or hit the ice bar. Grumpy old man or not, all are invited!
When: February 25, 2017
Where to stay: Thirty minutes from Wabasha situated along the Mississippi River, Winona is close to hiking trails and beautiful parks like Sugar Loaf and Great River Bluffs State Park. Whether you’re searching for a rental with small town charm or a home off the beaten path, you’ll find it here.
Calling all barbecue fanatics! This one-day food festival takes place every October during what has been dubbed “Barbecue Month” by the county. Several blocks in uptown Lexington shut down for the event so that visitors can roam from food stand to food stand sampling cuisine prepared in the town’s signature barbecue style. Besides barbecue, there’s a captivating bike show, live entertainment, and countless arts and crafts vendors.
When: October 28, 2017
Where to stay: Stay in High Point, just 20 minutes from BBQ HQ. It’s situated right between Lexington and Greensboro, making it easy to explore Central North Carolina.
Don’t be alarmed by the name of this event hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. BugFest offers an opportunity for visitors to explore the world of bugs and learn from top entomologists. From eating dishes that feature bugs as the main ingredient to exploring over 100 exhibits, there will never be a dull moment during this festival. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get over that fear of creepy crawlies you’ve always had.
When: September 2017
Where to stay: Book your getaway to Raleigh and plan a trip the whole family will love. When you’re not at BugFest, stroll Raleigh’s tree-lined streets or hop between its three (free!) museums.
In its bicentennial year, the Twins Day Festival is a can’t-miss event for twins (and multiples) from all over. It’s the world’s largest annual gathering of twins and is a fascinating celebration of both the founding of Twinsburg and twins. Whether you’re identical or fraternal, young or old, male or female, twins ought to register in advance to march in the Double Take Parade. It’s sure to be a memorable experience for all.
When: August 4-6, 2017
Where to stay: Cleveland is just 25 miles from Twinsburg, and offers a convenient home base for those attending Twins Day Festival. If you have some down time during your stay, explore the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or soak up some sun on the shores of Lake Erie.
The Duck Tape Festival pays homage to the perpetually handy tape, highlighting its many uses in everyday life. From a colorful duct tape-themed fashion show to an impressive parade of duct tape-covered floats, this unique festival in Ohio might just inspire how you use the sticky stuff going forward. Be one of the first to arrive, and you’ll receive a free roll!
When: June 2017
Where to stay: The summer months are when Avon is at its finest. Book a vacation rental just minutes from Lake Erie and bask in the warmer temperatures that June brings.
At Bat Fest visitors stand shoulder-to-shoulder on Congress Ave. Bridge, eagerly awaiting the emergence of over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. They typically begin to fly out from under the bridge at dusk and it can take up to 30 minutes for all of the bats to head out for their nightly flight. With three stages of live music, a variety of food vendors, and plenty of fun activities for children, this wacky festival is a favorite among many Austin residents.
When: August 19, 2017
Where to stay: With its motto “Keep Austin Weird”, it’s no surprise that this eccentric Texas city is home to such a unique summer event. Stay with your group in a hip downtown rental for convenient access to the city’s coolest restaurants and attractions.
Purchase a wristband and head to the beach for three days of non-stop fun at Texas SandFest. It boasts numerous music tents, a beer and wine garden, and miles of sandy beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Enter the sand sculpting contest as an amateur or simply stroll along the beach in awe of the masterpieces shaped by advanced sculptors from around the country.
When: April 21-23, 2017
Where to stay: Book a private home steps from the beach on Port Aransas. Known for its pristine coastal landscape, first-class fishing, and laidback vibe, you can enjoy this small town before tourists converge on it during the summer months.
The 25-foot inflatable mosquito, Willie-Man-Chew, has been hovering over The Great Texas Mosquito Festival every year since 1981. During the day, bring the kids along to check out Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo. Once the sun goes down, let loose with an evening of dancing. The “Executive Swat Team” is there all weekend to make sure everything runs smoothly. Head to Clute to see what all the buzz is about.
When: July 27-29, 2017
Where to stay: Find a quaint beach cottage in Freeport, just over six miles from Clute. This location offers convenient access to The Great Texas Mosquito Festival, while putting you closer to some of Texas’s beautiful Gulf beaches.
Every August, the National Lentil Festival consumes the small town of Pullman, and if you’re a lover of lentils, this is the place to be. The one-of-a-kind festival celebrates the region’s production of high-quality lentils with a legendary cook-off, numerous cooking demonstrations, and the kid-friendly Lentil Land. Taste a variety of lentil-inspired dishes, but don’t forget to try a sample from the world’s largest bowl of lentil chili.
When: August 18-19, 2017
Where to stay: Pullman is situated along the Washington-Idaho border, and Moscow (a 15-minute drive across the state line into Idaho) offers spacious vacation homes in the heart of a picturesque college town.
Over the years, Marlinton’s residents have really taken to celebrating their region’s roots. How? With an annual roadkill cook-off! This uniquely West Virginian festival features the likes of squirrel gravy, bear chili, deer sausage, and more on the menu. Not feeling adventurous? Stick to exploring the craft show where crafters from all over the state showcase their wares. When: September 29-30, 2017
Where to stay: Choose a cozy home nestled amid the Allegheny Mountains in Snowshoe. It’s less than 30 miles from where the Roadkill Cook-off takes place in Marlinton so you can enjoy a scenic ride through the West Virginian landscape on your way there.
Ready to get your hands dirty? Grab a handful of cow chips and see just how far you can toss them at the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival. Don’t forget to lick your hands for a better grip! There are prizes for each of the winners and major bragging rights. Rather be a spectator? Watch the competition and then enjoy some tasty Wisconsin fare at the outdoor food court.
When: September 2017
Where to stay: From Baraboo to the city of Wisconsin Dells, this rural region has so much to see and do. Go for a stroll at Devil’s Lake State Park or spend some quality family time at your quaint farmhouse rental and enjoy the ultimate small town getaway.
Thanks to a wonderfully sunny climate and naturally picturesque landscape, Destin has long been a golfer’s paradise. Visitors flock to this Northwest Florida destination for its lush, green fairways, championship-level play and warm weather all year long.
Eager to book a tee time? We’ve rounded up five of the best golf courses in Destin to spend a relaxing day out on the links. Whether you’re an avid golfer looking to test your skills or simply looking for a break from the beach, the golf courses on our list will not disappoint. Plus, book a spacious vacation rental in Destin (FlipKey has more than 1,800 to choose from!) and we’re sure your vacation will be a hole-in-one.
“I would rate it a 10. Greens were great and fairways great, also. Player-friendly to anyone.” – TripAdvisor Traveler
Situated in the greater Destin area, the Sandestin Golf Resort features four award-winning golf courses: Baytowne Golf Club, Burnt Pine Club, The Links Golf Club, and Raven Golf Club. With 72 holes spanning the beach to the bay, every course boasts spectacular views and a peaceful setting. Iconic golf course designers like Tom Jackson and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. had a hand in creating the unrivaled experience and unbeatable aesthetic throughout Sandestin Golf Resort.
New to golf or less experienced? Play your first round at Baytowne Golf Club and tee up at the forward or junior tees. Trust us: it’ll be a much more forgiving experience. For golfers looking to truly elevate their game, Raven Golf Club presents the perfect opportunity–fairways wind through the area’s wetlands, marshes and pine trees, providing a variety of challenging shot options. Don’t mind the possibility of losing a few balls to water hazards? Then schedule a tee time at Burnt Pine Golf Club or The Links Golf Club then. Both courses offer spectacular views of the Choctawhatchee Bay, but beware–the Gulf Winds are known for steering airborne balls into the bay and surrounding wetlands occasionally.
From rolling fairways and contoured greens to menacing sand traps and water hazards, Sandestin Golf Resort is one of the best in Destin for the ultimate golf experience. Book online or call in advance to inquire about specials and package deals.
“The course was in immaculate condition, the fairways in great shape and the greens rolled true. The course had character and plenty of challenging holes.” – TripAdvisor Traveler
Aptly nicknamed the Jewel of the Emerald Coast, Kelly Plantation Golf Club’s greens are as visually stunning as they are challenging and impressive. The semi-private golf club features miles of waterfront, wide fairways and well-manicured greens, making it one of the best golf courses in Destin.
Long-hitters are put to the test as the course stretches 7,099 yards from the back tees, while novice golfers are encouraged to use the forward tees. Once you (and your ball) have made it to the green, you’ll find a unique challenge at almost every hole. Conquer multi-tiered greens that threaten even the best putter’s chances at making par, or maneuver the double green that serves holes No. 7 and 11, separated by only a boldly placed bunker. As you play, enjoy the sweeping views of the Choctawhatchee Bay and take in the native Magnolias and Palmettos that surround the fairways. You’re sure to have a golf experience unlike any other as all 18 holes captivate visitors.
Looking to save a buck or two? Book online to receive special promotional rates or schedule a tee-time at twilight for more affordable rates. All rates include 18 holes of golf, access to a cart, complimentary range balls, and use of high-tech GPS technology.
“I can’t say enough about this beautiful and challenging course… If you’re a golfer or a hacker, this place is a must stop during your visit. Get your camera out for the par 3 number 8!” – TripAdvisor Traveler
Land and sea meet on the grounds of the Regatta Bay Golf and Yacht Club, and its pristine, natural setting provides a peaceful escape for golfers all year long. It’s one of the best golf courses in Destin for all skill levels, and the 6,894-yard, par-72 course is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
The challenging course was designed by Robert C. Walker, the former lead architect for Arnold Palmer. His flawless design blends natural vegetation with course hazards creating the ultimate risk-vs-reward golf experience. Get a feel for the course’s more demanding holes by taking a virtual tour online before hitting the links. If you prefer to be surprised, schedule your tee time online and show up with your game face on. Before each drive, visualize the ball sailing through the bright blue skies on the way to the flagstick so you can attack each hole with the utmost confidence. Hole number two will try to trip you up in the beginning, but you’ll be in a groove by the time you reach the back nine.
Regatta Bay Golf Club is known for offering a wealth of amenities that give it an upscale country club vibe. Feeling flushed? Grab a mango-scented iced towel at one of the holes to refresh yourself. Stomach starting to growl? There are chilled apples available at the 1st and 10th tees. Other niceties available include on-course circulating beverage carts and a state-of-the-art Visage GPS system on all golf carts.
If you flock to Destin during the winter for an extended stay, consider purchasing a winter golf package so that you can maximize your time out on the course and save some money.
“Put this course on your Destin A-list. Tees, fairways and greens were all what you would expect from a top level course. This is the best course we have played in Destin.” – TripAdvisor Traveler
With a classic Florida landscape on the front nine and breathtaking bay views on the back, it’s no surprise that Emerald Bay Golf Club is considered one of Northwest Florida’s premier golf courses. Its long, flat holes wind through the exclusive gated community, treating visitors to total privacy and tranquility. The Emerald Bay golf course was designed by famed course architect, Bob Cupp, and underwent a complete renovation in 2014 to improve the overall experience for locals and seasonal guests.
If you’re an early bird, booking a tee time before 8 a.m. will knock 50% off of the price for a round of golf, plus the use of a cart. Prefer to soak up some rays during peak sun time? Make one of Destin’s nearby beaches your first stop, and then book a tee time at twilight for a discounted rate. No matter what time you’re scheduled to play, you can still enjoy the satisfying feeling of hitting the ball right on the sweet spot and launching it the length of the fairway. Emerald Bay Golf Club offers the very essence of Florida golf at every hole, so whether you make par or bogey, don’t forget to take in your surroundings.
“This is a treasure in Destin – 27 holes, well-maintained and beautiful layout. Each nine have their own challenges and will test your skills.” – TripAdvisor Traveler
Indian Bayou Golf Club offers three worthy layouts: Seminole Course, Choctaw Course, and Creek Course. Each consists of nine immaculate holes and puts golfers to the test amidst nature at its best. Wide, forgiving fairways, majestic greens, sparkling lakes, and undulating pines that sway with every coastal breeze can be found throughout Indian Bayou Golf Club’s 27 holes.
Power through Choctaw Course, known for its long, straight holes that reward distance and accuracy. Prepare yourself for hole seven, which is deeper than it looks and moves to the right. Plan on at least four shots here before you can move on to the next hole. Choose Seminole Course if you prefer far-reaching fairways and a variety of pin placements that keep you on your toes. Large greens throughout this course provide opportunities for birdie or par. On Creek Course, water alongside several fairways makes each hole beautiful, but challenging. The second can be especially problematic for less-experienced golfers–but anyone who has less than meticulous ball placement might lose a few balls to the bayou.
While it’s possible to play a round of only nine holes here, you’ll save big when you book a tee time for 18 holes. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few extra hours on the golf course, anyway?
The packing list is simple (swimsuit and flip-flops, check!) and the itinerary is a no-brainer (lay on the beach, check!). While there shouldn’t be anything difficult about a beach getaway, sometimes finding the right beach to visit is a challenge.
Head out your door and you’ll find Siesta Beach a short 230 feet from The Shells Villa. The proximity to the soft sand is only one feature of this top-rated rental. Three flat screen TVs, a gated driveway for privacy, and a one-block walk to top restaurants make this villa a must-book.
“Ka’anapali Beach is a great stretch of beach with many exciting attractions. You can go snorkeling down by Blackrock, walk the entire beach, power-walk the boardwalk, canoe, or just build sandcastles.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
At Mahana 1099, guests enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows displaying Maui magic on three sides. After a long day in the surf, dine on the balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounding beaches. This is one rental where the pictures simply do not do it justice.
Cherrywood cabinets highlight a kitchen that has it all for aspiring chefs. Step outside onto the private patio and fire up the grill to cook up the day’s catch. But with St. Pete Beach just a half mile away, save the cooking for nighttime, after the sun has set on another flawless day in Florida.
“Whether you are a beginner, experienced snorkeler, or just want to visit a beautiful beach and bay, I highly recommend visiting here… If you’re snorkeling, the abundance of sea life is amazing. Turtles, seals, fish; they’re all here.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Perched just above the famous “Spitting Caves” in Honolulu, this beautifully crafted redwood home was designed for the 180˚ panoramic views. It takes your breath away! Spend your days on the Hanauma Bay beaches, and enjoy the native Hawaiian plants surrounding Lumahai Hale, which feels like your own private piece of the rainforest.
“Clean beaches. Soft. Not many shells. Small waves, but enough to boogie board. Plenty of room. Lots of shops to get last minute items or food and drinks. Everyone was pleasant, lots of kids playing in the surf.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Guests at the Acropolis beach house enjoy exquisite finishes at every turn, including “Old World-style” stone work, tumbled-travertine floor tiles, and custom lighting. Renters enjoy private beach access as well as incredible sunset views from the patio.
“I get a special feeling when I visit Ogunquit beach that is indescribable. … I’ve been to many other beaches, in Florida and other places, and they just don’t compare. Even in the summer, when the beach is busy, you still feel at peace here. I just can’t describe it, but it’s why I keep coming back. This is also the cleanest beach I’ve ever seen.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Close to Ogunquit’s award winning beaches, the spacious Beachwoods house is ideal for a large group trip to Maine. With space for up to 15, and a huge backyard for entertaining, this rental has all the touches your party will love. Kids can play billiards in the basement game room while the adults cook breakfast in the Viking kitchen.
“This beach is huge, lined with a boardwalk. The sand is kept clean and you can walk til you’re tired, it never seems to end. Loved it and would go back again if we got the chance.” – TripAdvisor Reviewer
Are 8 bathrooms excessive? Not if you’re staying right on Virginia Beach in the Shining Star house with 25 of your closest friends. This spacious house gives your family over 7500 square feet of living area and decks, complete with a hot tub and renovated pool. All this luxury sits right on the beachfront!
“Santa Monica beach is one of the best in the country. The wide expanse of sand and pretty boardwalk are awesome. It has a pier that extends quite a distance out into the Pacific with rides and other kitschy stores. The walking path goes on and on. Take a moment to step down onto this beach and then make your way across the street to the great Santa Monica shopping district. It is a great place to be. Highly recommended.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
This rental on Santa Monica Beach is the ultimate in California decadence. Almost 3500 square feet await your arrival, and the hanging crystal chandelier will certainly draw your eye. Steps to bustling Santa Monica Pier, you’re in the heart of action, but you probably won’t want to leave. After a long day sunbathing, soak in the jacuzzi and watch the sunset on the private rooftop deck.
Don’t worry about fighting for bedrooms—every space in this house has an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean and Race Point Beach. Located on a private road, this rental is perfect for large families or groups of friends traveling to Cape Cod together.
With brighter, lighter days on the horizon, we’re keeping a close eye on the calendar in anticipation of spring. Whether you’re looking forward to planting and gardening or dreading end-of-winter yard work, you don’t need a green thumb to appreciate the vibrant blooms cropping up across the country.
We’re making it easy to embrace the scenery with a list of great gardens and nature attractions in every state. Selected by the travel experts at FlipKey, these venues are the perfect spots to see buds and blossoms come alive. Whether you’re planning spring break or just have a case of spring fever, consider visiting one of the recommended gardens or conservation areas on our list!
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